Iraq Study Group: "Learn Arabic, you morons"

1,000 people work in the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. Guess how many speak Arabic?

By Andrew Leonard
Published December 8, 2006 5:03PM (EST)

While the English Firsters froth about Spanish signs, the rest of us can just weep at how American insularity, isolationism and good old-fashioned mulish ignorance undermine our every attempt to act sanely in this world.

Some blogospheric tidbits are simply too good not to pass along, even if no value is added in the process. Brad DeLong alerts us to Jim Henley's pointer to a Reuters article with yet another revealing item of self-condemnation from the Iraq Study Group's report:

Among the 1,000 people who work in the U.S. Embassy in Iraq, only 33 are Arabic speakers and only six speak the language fluently, according to the Iraq Study Group report released on Wednesday.

"All of our efforts in Iraq, military and civilian, are handicapped by Americans' lack of knowledge of language and cultural understanding," the bipartisan panel said in its report. "In a conflict that demands effective and efficient communication with Iraqis, we are often at a disadvantage."

The report, written by five Republicans and five Democrats, recommended the U.S. government give "the highest possible priority to professional language proficiency and cultural training" for officials headed to Iraq.

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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